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Running down the rosters: Baltimore Orioles

Feb 23, 2012, 11:00 PM EDT

Matt Wieters, Adam Jones AP

After sitting out the chase for Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, the Orioles are staring down a fifth straight last-place finish and a seventh consecutive 90-loss season. Such is life in the AL East.

Jason Hammel – R
Zach Britton – L
Jake Arrieta – R
Wei-Yin Chen – L
Tommy Hunter – R

Jim Johnson – R
Matt Lindstrom – R
Kevin Gregg – R
Luis Ayala – R
Tsuyoshi Wada – L
Pedro Strop – R
Alfredo Simon – R

SP next in line: Wada, Dana Eveland (L), Brad Bergesen (R), Brian Matusz (L), Chris Tillman (R), Armando Galarraga (R)
RP next in line: Troy Patton (L), Jason Berken (R), Darren O’Day (R), Willie Eyre (R), Pat Neshek (R), Dennys Reyes (L)

Dan Duquette shook up the pitching staff in his first offseason as Orioles GM, trading the team’s one reliable starter in Jeremy Guthrie for Hammel and Lindstrom and importing two Asian pitchers in Chen and Wada. His moves have given the Orioles a ton of pitching depth; in fact, their second five starting pitchers could go toe-to-toe with some of their starting rotations from the  mid-aughts. Still, whether the quality is there to go with the quantity is the big question. If Britton is healthy, if Chen recovers his stuff, if Matusz returns to 2010 form, if…

Unfortunately, many of the bullpen decisions will come down to option years: Strop, Simon and Patton are all out of options and thus may make the team over more deserving pitchers. The Orioles might end up just releasing Gregg if he fails to impress this spring, opening up a spot for someone like Patton or Berken. They could also put Wada in the rotation and send Hunter to Triple-A.

LF Nolan Reimold – R
SS J.J. Hardy – R
RF Nick Markakis – L
CF Adam Jones – R
C Matt Wieters – S
3B Mark Reynolds – R
DH Wilson Betemit – S
1B Chris Davis – L
2B Robert Andino – R

C Taylor Teagarden – R
INF Matt Antonelli – R
INF Ryan Flaherty – L
OF Endy Chavez – L

Disabled list: Brian Roberts (S)
Next in line: C Ronny Paulino, 1B Nick Johnson (L), 1B Joseph Mahoney (L), 2B Ryan Adams (R), INF Steven Tolleson (R), OF Jai Miller (R), OF Xavier Avery (L)

Obviously, the lineup sets up much, much better if Roberts can pull off a successful return from post-concussion syndrome. If Roberts is out, as most expect, then the Orioles will have to try to cobble together their leadoff situation. I prefer Reimold, but Hardy, Andino, Chavez and Antonelli could also see time there. Markakis actually might be the best option of the bunch. It’s not like he’s been hitting for much power lately anyway.

Power is what the lineup has going for it; besides the second baseman, everyone in the lineup is a candidate to hit 20 homers. That won’t make it an elite offense on its own, but if a couple of guys have career years, the team would be capable of surprising.

Then again, things never seem to break quite right for the Orioles. Since winning 98 games 15 years ago, the franchise has finished under .500 every year. At least the team is younger these days, and while the farm system isn’t exactly awash with prospects, the team’s last two first-round picks (SS Manny Machado and RHP Dylan Bundy) appear very, very promising. With Wieters as a foundation, there is reason to hope the Orioles will be in a better position to compete come 2013 or ’14.

  1. proudlycanadian - Feb 24, 2012 at 5:21 AM

    Pitching did them in last year and will probably do them in this year.

  2. icyhuckh20 - Feb 24, 2012 at 7:01 AM

    I’m sad to call myself an orioles fan ,I just hope he sell the team to Ripken cuz angelo don’t wanna spend any money

  3. sumerduckman - Feb 24, 2012 at 7:23 AM

    The Orioles have a higher payroll than the Rays or Jays. Angelos just needs to let his baseball people make the decisions, and stop being a micro-manager. Or sell the team. Please.

    • JBerardi - Feb 24, 2012 at 7:33 AM

      Angelos just needs to let his baseball people make the decisions, and stop being a micro-manager.

      The Scorpion and the Frog is a fable about a scorpion asking a frog to carry him across a river. The frog is afraid of being stung during the trip, but the scorpion argues that if it stung the frog, the frog would sink and the scorpion would drown. The frog agrees and begins carrying the scorpion, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When asked why, the scorpion points out that this is its nature. The fable is used to illustrate the position that the behaviour of some creatures is irrepressible, no matter how they are treated and no matter what the consequences.

      You’ll notice that the Orioles had a hell of a time hiring a GM (that’d be the frog in this analogy) last offseason…

  4. JBerardi - Feb 24, 2012 at 7:28 AM

    That rotation might be worth something in Petco… in the AL East? Good luck.

    • dwrek5 - Feb 24, 2012 at 8:04 AM

      Same with the lineup. That lineup plays in the AL Central, NL West. Life in the AL East…

  5. jeb7524 - Feb 24, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    Hope springs eternal in February. Let’s go Bucs! Let’s go O’s!

  6. moveablenu - Feb 24, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    I really hate to be “that guy,” but Mahoney bats left-handed.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Feb 24, 2012 at 11:41 AM

      By all means, be that guy. Thanks for the fix.

  7. phaseetious - Feb 24, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    I’m pretty sure the Orioles are going to surprise a lot of people this year…I just haven’t figured out how, but I know it won’t be because they came in any place other than 5th.

  8. Loose Changeup - Feb 24, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    The O’s were better than the Red Sox in September, so they have that going for them

    • watermelon1 - Feb 24, 2012 at 3:08 PM

      And they haven’t lost a game since September!

  9. dowhatifeellike - Feb 24, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Neither Betemit nor Andino has a shot at 20 homers. Betemit has 63 total in 9 seasons. Andino’s numbers can’t be any better.

  10. watermelon1 - Feb 24, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    What does the division have to do with ANYTHING? The Orioles suck against pretty much ANY opponent. It’s not like all of their losses came from within the AL East last year, or the year before, or the year before…

    This team is horrible. Markakis is highly overrated in the field. He’s got an arm, but if he could get to more line drives then nobody would notice his arm because he wouldn’t be trying to catch guys stretching for doubles or triples nearly as often.

    Adam Jones was mediocre last year, but because the rest of the team was so bad… it made him look better. JJ Hardy was the lone bright spot, and I’d have to assume it was a fluke that won’t be repeated, simply because… this is the Orioles!

    The pitching… I’ve never seen a team give up so many leads in the first inning. The bullpen gave up Uehara, who should have been the closer from day 1. Mike Gonzalez was given an infinite leash, for no apparent reason at all. And Kevin Gregg? Wow.

    It’s just bad baseball in Baltimore, and if the Nationals do half as good as most are expecting, Camden Yards could quite possibly be torn down within a few years to make more room for Ravens tailgating lots.

  11. blackhawk1938 - Feb 24, 2012 at 11:26 PM

    Such a shame. Great baseball town with no product whatsoever on the field. Zilch.

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